22-time Grand Slam champion Nadal has been absent for the majority of the 2023 season. After sustaining an injury at the Australian Open in January, Nadal announced that he would skip the rest of the season in order to undergo surgery but that he would aim to return in 2024. Since then, he has been providing fans with updates on his condition after recently returning to training.
As the end of the season drew nearer, Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley appeared to confirm Nadal's appearance at the 2024 edition of the Grand Slam in Melbourne. However, the 37-year-old responded by tempering expectations, saying that his participation in the major is still uncertain.
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Toni says nephew will have to play while in pain
In a recent interview with Onda Cero, Nadal's uncle and former longtime coach Toni provided another update on the situation, saying that while his nephew is getting better, he may have to return to play while still in pain.
"My nephew tries to be cautious, which is what he has to do. I believe that for the Australian Open my nephew should be in good condition to compete, all going well, because I have seen him train.
"Every day he gets a little better. It's true that it has been a very long-term injury, but well, that's how it is.
"It is a high-level sport, in the end it is almost mandatory to play with pain. Unfortunately, because you push your body to the limit and taking it to the limit is what makes you have all these problems," he said.
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The 62-year-old added that Nadal's situation was "complicated" and that this could affect his performance at the Australian Open.
"Rafael Nadal is aware that the situation is complicated. Let's say he manages to reach Australia, it will not be easy to compete again with an added problem. He will not go seeded and from the first moment you can get a high-level player.
"When Rafa plays a Grand Slam and faces manageable opponents in the beginning, he gains momentum and becomes dangerous starting from the quarter-finals" he continued.